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File 16580567372.png - (64.92KB, 237x136, a.png)
I open the blank scroll, pick up a brush, and begin writing.
"Today, on the 6th August, another outsider got killed." I stop at that single line, and sigh. I really want to add more, but I must stick to what I know, and maintain the archive perfectly. I want to add that he was extremely incoherent, and got killed by the militia after he snatched a sword and threatened to kill them if they got closer.
I put the brush down, carefully, and I stretch. Trying to forget the sight of his mangled body is an exercise in itself, but keeping notes is sadly all I can do. Speaking of which, let's see just how many outsiders are still alive by now.
"Five outsiders got in Gensokyo after their bus got lost..." Five, right. Three of them died before they could reach the village, and the fourth one died yesterday in the evening. Meaning there's only one left, and that poor sap probably doesn't feel all right.

I pick up my cane, and slowly walk to the window. At least today is relatively quiet.
"You got a new dead outsider? Can I eat him?"
And there she goes.
"They already cremated him. And by the way, I didn't give you my keys, how did you come in?"
"I made a spare."
I can't help but smile, and she does the same. Youkais are a troublesome lot, but I don't mind that one.
"Why visit me today? Are you bored again?"
"I finished my book. Got another one?"
Her eyes land on my weak leg, and her smile briefly disappear while her eyes grow enraged. She opens her mouth, but closes it after a while.
"I just might. As long as you tell me why you're really here."
She looks at me, a surprised look on her face, and turns away, her cheeks blushing. "...I wanted to see you."
"But you come almost every nigh-"
"That's different!" She cuts me, which is rather unusual for her. "I felt like I needed to see you. The youkais are whispering, you know? They say that the humans in the village will soon turn on each others, and that already they're killing each others!"
I hold back a sigh. "It's different, he was an outsider. Sometimes, they have weapons that can kill you in a flash, so the militia-"
"The militia, the militia!" She cuts me again, her eyes on my leg, her lips trembling in what I assume to be rage. Then, after a few seconds, she stands up and leaves my cushion. "Your ink will go dry."
I understand the message, and slowly walk back, while she avoids looking at me.
"By the way, have you heard about the crystal lake?" I hum negatively, while pulling up my sleeve and grabbing my brush again. "It got all muddy."

[] "Do tell me more."
[] "I'm kind of busy with what's going on in the village."
[] "Must suck for whoever lives here. Does anyone lives there?"
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[X] "Do tell me more."

A new story huh, neat! Of course I'd vote to learn more about what's the title of the story.
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[X] Lak-
[X] "Must suck for whoever lives here. Does anyone lives there?"
Akyuu story?
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Waiting for someone to break the tie.
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[X] "Do tell me more."

Might as well see what this is actually all about.
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File 165827707435.jpg - (282.76KB, 740x462, crystal lake.jpg)
crystal lake
[X] "Do tell me more."

I briefly hesitate, before dipping the brush in ink again, and resume the writing.
"Do tell me more." I comment off-handedly, focusing on being as matter-of-factly as I can.
She sits in front a me, barely hiding a pleased smile that she managed to rile up my curiosity. "Well, that's kind of all there is to it. The Crystal Lake's muddy."
I mumble to myself, writing the facts and only the facts, before commenting aloud. "What happened? The fairy by the lake decided to fish with explosives again?"
I put the brush down and watch her laugh at my joke. "Not a chance, after the Hakurei scolded her, even she wouldn't try that again! She's not really smart, but she has good instinct, and nobody wants to get on the bad side of that girl."
"Is she that scary?"
Her smile instantly disappears. "She's worse than Miss Hieda. Just be glad you're human, you're safe from her."
I shrug. "I dunno, Miss Hieda's pretty scary herself. Last time I wrote notes on the side, she had me rewrite the archive for the whole month. It took me half the night."
She stands up, walks around the table and hugs me. "I'm sorry, I'm sure you were lonely."
I can't help but smile as I lean against her. "Yeah, I was. Lonely and cold."
She doesn't answer.
"Well. I guess my work is done for today, anyway..."

By the time it's lunch, we're still in bed.
"So, if I got it right, the lake just got muddy like that?"
I massage my weak leg. "That's weird."
"It sure is."
I take a peek at her. Sadly, she immediately notices me, and pulls up the sheet to covers herself. "Oh, come on, I can appreciate beauty."
She sticks her tongue out. "I don't want to risk being eaten."
I laugh back, unable to think of an answer, before bringing the same topic again. "Sorry, but that lake thing just worries me. Things don't happen without a reason."
She smiles. "Things don't happen without a reason, huh? Am I really talking to you, or to someone else who wears your skin and never used magic?"
I shrug while scratching my leg. "Even magic follows rules. If you can understand the rules, you can manipulate the system, that's how it works."
"You really are a human, you're all the same. You need to carve open, break, and destroy to understand."
I crawl closer, landing a kiss on her cheek. "Well, at least you'll have an easy time replacing me when I'll die."
To my surprise, she violently pushes me off.
"Hey! What's the ide-"
"Shut up."
The venom in her voice stops me in my track, and I stay silent as she dresses and leaves. I can't help but feel I screwed up.
I crawl back to the bed and get my walking stick, standing up with difficulty, before getting dressed as well.

I need to do something. Anything.
[] Go walk around the market or something.
[] Go inspect the lake.
[] Go ask Miss Hieda if she has a job for me.
[] ...fuck it, go after Tokiko and apologize.
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I'm guessing this is a Marisa story?
[X] ...fuck it, go after Tokiko and apologize.
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[X] Go walk around the market or something
oughta clear the head first
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[X] Go walk around the market or something
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[X] Go walk around the market or something

With an annoyed sigh, I pick up my coat, my cane, but I also pick an amulet and a knife that I sneak in my sleeve, just in case.
I leave my house, and slowly leaves the residential district to head to the market, still thinking about Tokiko's reaction. I mean, it makes sense, right? I'm only human, and she's a youkai, so she'll outlive me, so why pretend it'll never happen?

The market is busy as usual, with a lot of couples going from stalls to stalls, loudly commenting. Looking around, I notice a fair bit of youkais in the crowd. A woman with fox ears here, smiling at a young man holding a racoon mask. A smoked meat seller with large horns. A couple of men in a corner, glaring daggers at everyone who doesn't look human.
I walk in, going in the crowd with difficulty, making my way to a dango seller, and buying a few for myself. Then, as I make my way out of the crowd, I hear a single, hateful whisper.
Then someone kicks my walking stick and I fall to the ground, the dangos falling down and being instantly trampled by the crowd.
"Hey, someone fell down! You okay, buddy?"
I look up, and see a hand reaching down for me. I grab it, and I'm swiftly pulled up, face to face with a cat youkai.
"Yeah, thanks. Sorry for tripping."
He shakes his head, his tail fuzzing up, and answer in a pissed whisper. "You're fine, you didn't trip. I saw that, someone kicked you. Got any idea who that was?"
I shrug. "Lots of tension recently."
"But still, picking on the..." His eyes wander down, staring at my leg, and he bites his lip. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to..."

[] "Let me offer you a drink."
[] "I have to go, I have to [write-in]."
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Tough walkin around with a bum leg like that. No way to get it treated?

Who'd be the one buyin who a drink here?
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I probably need to clarify that the quality of the write-in won't really matter, so if you can't think of one, pick the option anyway.
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[X] "Let me offer you a drink."
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[X] "Let me offer you a drink."
May aswell
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[X] "Let me offer you a drink."

I nod, and try to smile.
"Thanks for the help, though. Can you let me offer you a drink?"
The cat youkai makes a funny face, clearly surprised. "...sure?"

We go to the tavern, and get some sake. The building, usually fairly loud, is oddly quiet today, which seem to annoy the cat. Once we're both sitting, he ask me, in a hushed voice.
"Anything going on today?"
I shrug. "You tell me. All I know is that another outsider went crazy and had to be killed by the watchmen."
"Isn't it strange for humans to kill another human?"
I can't help but smirk. "Outsiders and us, we have as much in common as you'd have with... I dunno, a fox youkai."
He mumbles to himself, and drinks slowly. "...how many outsiders are left?"
"Excuse me?"
He looks at me, and asks again. "Last time I checked, it was a group of three, right? The remaining two are still here? I need to talk to them."
"Dude, I'm sorry, but two of them are already dead. If you wanna chat up the last one, you'll have to be quick, and..." I shut up before saying too much, but he notices it.
"What's up?"
I hesitate, and add. "I'm afraid the watchmen won't let you talk to him."
"Because I'm a black cat and I'll bring them misfortune?" He asks, his ears perking up angrily.
"No, not because you're black, but because you're a cat. The militia, they don't like youkais."
He stares at me, and gulps his drink down.
"You didn't know?" I ask, a bit surprised. Pretty much everyone knows, except maybe the kappas, but they're so annoyingly friendly. And they are very popular among younger villagers, due to their habits of swimming in these tights swimsuits. A few years ago, it wouldn't have been rare to hear one of the boys lost his virginity to one. Then the militia caught one having fun, and...
I shiver, before noticing his stare. "...yeah?"
"Is it okay for you to be seen with you?"
I point at the crowd outside. "There are many people dating youkais, so me having a drink with you won't raise an eyebrow."
"I see. Say, you're not trying to date me, are you?"
I choke on my sake under his amused eyes.

[] Well, that was all fun, but I still to find me a gift for a deary crested ibis.
[] Well, that was all fun, but I need to go shave my knee or something.
[] Well, that was all fun, but I need to come up with a generic excuse and go do something like staring at the wall.
[] Why do a youkai want to talk to an outsider anyway?
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[X] Well, that was all fun, but I still to find me a gift for a deary crested ibis.


What sorta gift do you get a bird-lady anyway? Somethin for preening, maybe a rope to chew on?
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[x] Well, that was all fun, but I still to find me a gift for a deary crested ibis.
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> The fairy by the lake decided to fish with explosives again?

And here I thought Cirno was a Cryo-type fairy, not a Pyro-type...

> No, not because you're black, but because you're a cat.

At least he's not a rabbit. Or, perhaps, a ghost.
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01 - MzZIdaG
[x] Well, that was all fun, but I still to find me a gift for a deary crested ibis.

I stand up with difficulty, coughing loudly, and probably spitting in his face, judging by how his ears immediately flatten on his head.
"No problems!"
Still coughing, I make my way to the bar and pay, before leaving quickly, or rather, as quickly as my leg carries me, pounding my chest to get the drink out of my lungs.

I make my way to the marketplace, again, noting that the crowd thinned a bit, and the Samurai strolling. I take a look around, neglecting the shining necklaces. These would please a crow tengu, but I know what she'd like.
"Oh hell no." Answers the book trader with a smile. "You got something you need to be forgiven for?"
I open my mouth to answer, but change my mind and, rather than a snarky line, I just nod sheepishly.
"All right." He takes a look at his stock, and pull out a little book with a thin cover. "Fantasy book, from the outside."
I grab it and open it. "...what the hell is this?"
"It's called a book, that's why there are no drawings."
I clap it shut. "What language is that?!"
"A language from the outside. I heard it's called Simple English."
"Can I get a book Tokiko can actually read, please?!"
He raises an eyebrow, before speaking in a soft tone. "Look, I know you two are a happy couple and all that, but don't you know she can read English?"
"I... We don't usually speak..." I turn red as he begins to smirk.
"Ha, to be young."
"I will take that book! Take your money, and choke on it!!"
I pay him, and leave, stomping with my good leg as I return home, ready to resume work.
I lower my head as I pass by the guardsmen, but thankfully, with the Samurai around, they'll behave.

The rest of the evening is uneventful. I quickly write the rest of the day's events (apparently while I was drinking, there was a fight but the Samurai calmed everyone down), get yelled at by my neighbour, and go to sleep.

During the night, I dream. I dream that I am flying in Gensokyo's pure blue sky. Looking down, my leg lacks its missing chunk, and I can flex it.
Happy, I fly toward :
[] The source in the mountain, giving out water.
[] The river going down the plain.
[] T̷h̴e̸ ̶l̶a̶k̵e̵,̸ ̸w̷h̵e̴r̵e̸ ̶w̶a̶t̵e̶r̷ ̶r̶e̸s̸t̴s̷,̵ ̴a̷l̴o̶n̶g̴ ̸w̷i̴t̴h̵ ̷H̵e̶r̴.̸
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The lake option obviously stands out, considering a) the weird formatting and b) the story's literally called "The Lake of Mud". But maybe that's a bit too obvious. Let's try something else!

[X] The source in the mountain, giving out water.
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File 166032978515.png - (48.06KB, 1006x516, The end.png)
The end
To make it clear, you WILL end up exploring the lake, whether you want it or not.
What you are doing right now is postponing the inevitable and allow It to grow stronger.
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[X] The source in the mountain, giving out water.

That lake option is rather tempting, but it’s also quite suspicious.
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[X] T̷h̴e̸ ̶l̶a̶k̵e̵,̸ ̸w̷h̵e̴r̵e̸ ̶w̶a̶t̵e̶r̷ ̶r̶e̸s̸t̴s̷,̵ ̴a̷l̴o̶n̶g̴ ̸w̷i̴t̴h̵ ̷H̵e̶r̴.̸

This story feels interesting and fresh. What has been shown about human/youkai relations has me curious to see more. I also want to see more of the protagonist's thoughts, so I'm picking the option that seems to explore that in more detail.
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[X] The river going down the plain.
Contrarian vote
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[X] T̷h̴e̸ ̶l̶a̶k̵e̵,̸ ̸w̷h̵e̴r̵e̸ ̶w̶a̶t̵e̶r̷ ̶r̶e̸s̸t̴s̷,̵ ̴a̷l̴o̶n̶g̴ ̸w̷i̴t̴h̵ ̷H̵e̶r̴.̸
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Stop voting, I'll write now.
"The source in the mountain, giving out water" won for most votes.
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[X] The source in the mountain, giving out water.

I feel thirst. I know I am in a dream, and yet I feel thirst. This is so strange.
I begin floating toward the mountain, following the river. A sudden pain in my leg almost wakes me up, I can briefly see my room, but I focus, and keeps flying.
Following the river, I fly up a large cavern, occupied by all manners of youkais I rarely see in the village : dog youkais with white hair, and what look like kids with blue coats who look like they come from the Outside. I'm relieved to see that they seem to treat the river decently, I don't see anyone throwing garbage in it.
Falling to thirst, I dip in the water, and despite this being just a dream, I feel wetness. Confused, I look at the water. There's nothing visible about it, and yet, I feel something, like a whisper, through the water. Then something touches my leg.

I jump up my bed in a panic, before dropping down as my weak leg gives up, hitting my head against the wooden floor. The shock makes an audible noise, and for a moment, I see stars, before I slowly get up again.
I'm drenched in sweat and my hands are shaking, which scares me. It was just a calm dream, nothing big, so why am I in a panic?
I sit against the wall, just under the window, and I take my head in my hands.
"...there was water, and... a cavern."
I must remember, but the details are already slipping through my fingers, it's like trying to hold sand. Let's see, a cavern, people... no, not people, youkais. These were youkais. I remember them being deformed lumps of flesh and teeth, for some reason. And then, there was something in the water, and...
A moan get me out of my reverie, and I slowly get up before opening the window. The cold air of the night makes me shiver, but the village looks as peaceful as ever, if not for the fact that more and more moans are filling the air.
"I'm not the only one, huh..."
I softly join the chorus of half-asleep prayers, feeling my mind becoming clear again. I guess Tokiko won't be visiting for a few days : she already complains when someone on the other side of the village has that night prayer, but if the whole village prays like this, the air might become genuinely toxic for youkais. But honestly, you can't expect humans who lived as cattle for generations to forego centuries of experience so quickly.
I hear some more high-pitched moanings joining the prayers, so I guess even the kids are starting to pray as well.
I cross my arms on the window, and stare at the night. Just what is going on that everyone went full defensive like so?

The next day, I recorded the incident as Miss Hieda ordered, then I went out. Tokiko didn't visit today, and compared to yesterday, the marketplace feels a lot more empty, and the few people in are sluggish and look tired. Most of the traders don't even bother shouting, and just sit at their counters, some of them even napping. From the corner of my eyes, I see the thugs of the militias smiling broadly while I visit the bakery, the clerk looking tired, his eyes bloodshots.
"So, what happened yesterday?"
"No fucking idea. You buyin' or can I sleep?"
"I'll take some cakes, please."
"They're from yesterday, I didn't have the courage to bake new ones."
"Half the price."
I leave the bakery and freeze. People are quickly moving out of the main plaza, leaving a single man alone.
I limp closer, both hands busy, before elbowing another person.
"Who's that?"
"The outsider."
"Why is everyone panicking?"
"Look at his hand. He's gone crazy."
He's holding an axe. Oh dear me, that's not good. And some of the militias are approaching him.

[] "Shouldn't we get the samurai?"
[] Let them arrest him.
[] Interfere.
[] Write-in.
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[X] Interfere.

Considering the violence of the militia that has been mentioned offhand, I don't think there is any chance that this outsider will receive a calming talk from the militia. Nevertheless, we should try to do something; this outsider might give us some insight into the strangeness that has affected the land.

I wonder if we can tackle the crazed outsider, throw the cakes we bought at his face, and barrel into him, though we have a weak leg, so I don't know how viable this option is; yet a second's distraction might make the difference.

I am kind of interested in seeing how bad things can get if we keep on avoiding exploring the lake. Kind of getting a Lovecraftian feel so far; time might be of the essence. Perhaps we might gather some more protection before exploring? Talismans and the like.
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[X] Interfere.
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[X] Interfere.

With a forced smile, I force myself on the front row, and I limp toward the outsider, still facing away from me. The two militias frown at me, but I just smile at them, and taps the guy's shoulder.
"Hey man. How you doing? You wanna eat something?"
He slowly turns back to face me, his hand still gripping the axe. I notice that his fingers are turning white under the pressure.
"...have you heard her? They said they didn't hear her." He whispers, in a dreaming voice.
I force myself to keep smiling. "Who's she?"
"She knows the words. She knows how to make you obey." He keeps talking, while I try to figure out who he's talking about. Someone who can make you do whatever she says? I'm tempted to answer my boss, but now's not the time to joke.
"The one sleeping in the mud?" I say, before realizing what I said.
His eyes light up, and he finally looks at me. That's when I realize that his pupils are deformed, like a goat. "Yes. She knows what you are, and why you lost part of your leg, and who took it. It wasn't a youkai, huh?"
At that moment, I can't explain why, I see red. I violently push him away, but rather than falling back, he answers by swinging the axe at my face. I feel the air against my face as I throw myself back, but the anger I feel pushes me back forward, and I raise my stick to hit him in the face. He blocks with the axe, before kicking me in the thigh, right where I have a hole.
Under the pain, I roar, before clumsily trying to punch him. I hear the distinct noise of punching something soft and his scream, before realizing I punched him in the eye. Furious as well, he shoves me on the ground, and raises his axe, ready to kill, but I have more than enough time to grab my walking stick and block, holding it with both hands and pushing it against the axe's handle.
There's a brief pause before he realizes what's going on and, bringing a hand to the back of the blade, begins to push down on me. I hear a crunching noise, and that's when I remember the cakes I was holding, and I realize he's stepping on them.
"I WILL TEAR YOUR GUTS OUT!" I spit out, now furious. The rest of the fight is a bit of a blur, but I remember kicking him in the groin, making him fall over and drop the axe. Then, as he crawled away to recover it, I think I threw my walking stick at him, and stood up, hopped to the axe, and then, I don't really remember how many times I hit him with it, but I remember only stopping because I was gasping for air.
"...he's dead, you can stop now." Someone whispers in my ear, and that's when I notice that I'm still holding the axe. I remember it was a little axe meant to turn wood into firewood, something really simple and relatively cheap. It probably belonged to the inn who hosted that guy.
"By Amaterasu, what has gotten into you? What did he say to piss you off so much?" I look up, and I see a familiar face. It takes me a few seconds to remember that I'm talking to the village chief.

[] "Sorry chief, he pissed me off."
[] "He said something about my leg."
[] Just stare at him.
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[X] "He said something about my leg."

The first option seems a bit redundant, considering what the village chief says. We should probably drop the axe while talking to the chief.

Well, that is certainly one way of interfering, I guess. People will be a bit tenser around us after witnessing what we did. Considering it was an outsider instead of a fellow villager, the implications of murdering a person in the middle of town with witnesses all around may not be as bad as I fear. I believe we will end up being taken into custody, though. Does the outsider still have a face, or is it just gone? Can the pupils be looked at still?

>Then, as he crawled away to recover it, I think I threw my walking stick at him, and stood up, hopped to the axe.

Why did the militia not step in by that point? The axe was away from the outsider and was away from us at the moment, along with our walking stick. Would it not have been a prime time to restrain both the outsider and us? Or did the strange mood of the town restrict them from de-escalating a violent conflict like this?
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sorry, work has been shit.
Will try to update by the end of the week.
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[X] "He said something about my leg."

I speak slowly. Nobody answer as I slowly get to my feet, holding my walking stick in one hand, and the other still holding the axe firmly.
"Come with me." His tone leaves no room for negotiation or dilly-dally, so I obey. The crowd moves away as we walk.

Sitting in front of his desk, facing me, he writes in silence. It takes a few excrutiating minutes for him to finally talk.
"You are banned."
He leaves me a few seconds to recover, putting the brush down before crossing his hands and looking at me, patiently waiting.
"You already worried people before, laying with youkais. Now, I don't know the exact situation, but everyone is afraid of you, and I fear it's a matter of time before someone takes a knife to your back."
"Please, I'm not done." He takes a deep breath and his face drastically changes. "You really are a fucking annoying bastard, you know that? I had plans for you, but ever since you got that wound, you've been doing fuckall!"
"I'm sorry."
"Right you fucking are. You had potential as a hunter, maybe even an exorcist, and now!" He takes a deep breath, and calms down. I take it as my hint to speak.
"I'll be fine on my own, don't worry." He doesn't answer, his eyes going to my leg and staring. "...really."
"No you won't. Even the Kirisame girl, with all her talent, never came back. She's either dead or insane by now."
I shrug. "I'm not an outsider, I won't fall to insanity."
"Remind me why you killed him?"
I stay silent.
"Thought so. Now listen, you're banned from living in the village, but you can still visit, okay? It's not a complete exile."
"I understand."
He stares at me, and looks like he wants to ask something, but I cut him short.
"Do you think that manor by the lake is hiring?"
He jumps. "You... You're better off avoiding the lake for a while. There was a... gas release or something, the whole area is toxic or something. Avoid it."
"I'll see about that." I shrug. I have no plans, and I can't really leech off Tokiko. My best chance is to kill myself before I'm found by some of the man-eating youkais.
We both stay silent, not knowing what to say, before he picks up the paper he's been writing on, and shows it to me.

It contains my name, and the explanation that for the crime of killing another human, I have been banned from the village, and that I'm not longer under human protection.
That's a death warrant if I saw one.

[] Walk out. Head to the Lake. The gas will be my best protection against youkais.
[] Walk out. Head to the Forest. I can find Tokiko there, and maybe ask her what I can do.
[] Write-in.
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[X] Walk out. Head to the Hakurei Shrine. Perhaps I can obtain some spiritual advice.

Well shit. Our protagonist has become a very dangerous man because he has nothing to lose. So before diving headfirst into a suicide mission into the lake, we should get a talisman and advice about spiritual possession. Unless the shrine maiden already knows, we can even warn her of the ongoing events. We should gather our belongings before heading out, particularly any money to donate.
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[X] Walk out. Head to the Hakurei Shrine. Perhaps I can obtain some spiritual advice.

I stand up, and walk away. I want to say that I left with a snarky one-liner and that I slammed the door, but truth to be told, I was more shocked than anything else. I don't even remember my trip home and how I started packing my things, but I finally snap into it when I bump into one of Akyuu's servants.
"Hey, you! I'll have you know what Miss Hieda is still waiting for you... for your..." She falls silent, looking me up and down. "You're covered in blood."
I force a little smile. "I might have killed someone, so I'm banished."
"The remaining outsider."
"You're casted out because of an outsider?" It comforts me to hear outrage in her voice.
"Yes." I shrug, that fake smile still on my face. "Guess I'll go now. Please take care of my cat."
"You've been keeping a cat?!"
Laughing to myself, I walk out as she keeps fuming. She'll likely spend a few minutes looking all over my... all over the room to find it. As if Tokiko would enjoy a cat's company.

My trip to the Hakurei Shrine is long and complicated. The road is most uneven, even for a healthy person, so for a limp like me, balancing my bag, the walking stick, and the hot sun is extremely unpleasant and tiresome.
And worse than that, fear is making me shake. I feel exposed, so damn exposed, that getting killed would be a relief. I mean, not like I can avoid death, but knowing that nobody would move a finger to help stresses me out greatly.
I put my hand on my mouth, and stop. A bit further, ahead of me, there's a ball of darkness, floating around randomly. Thankfully, I know that one, it's a blind youkai. Just stay silent, don't make a noise, and avoid it. Nothing too complicated, though...

I didn't know it could speak.

The Hakurei Shrine is finally in sight. Prepare an offering.
[] Money will tame the maiden.
[] Clothes? Maybe?
[] An old book.
[] Food.
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[X] Money will tame the maiden.

I don't see how money shall aid our nameless hero besides being a burden. But, on the other hand, I also feel that our hero has impurity from just brutally killing a man, kegare, I believe is the term, now and needs to do some cleansing, and the maiden is known for the seriousness with which she takes her job, so formality seems proper.

Don't quite know how she'll take the whole showing up with dried blood on the clothes. I hope the shine of coins will assuage any trepidations.
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[X] Money will tame the maiden.

I walk up the stairs, and stops before the torii, clapping my hands and saying a little prayer, and then entering the shrine grounds. Seeing nobody around, I walk up to the building, and drop a coin in the offering box, before praying again.
"You smell like a youkai. Don't stay here." Says a voice coming from the corner of the temple.
I force myself to smile. "I'm dead sure I'm still human, despite what they say."
A little girl comes from the corner of the temple, brown-haired, dressed in red, and less than half my size. Without stopping, she takes a look at the donation box, before glaring at me. Her sharp gaze unsettles me a bit, she looks like she's seeing through me. "Ha, the west gate veteran."
I shake my head. "Survivor."
Frowning, she tilts her head. "You smell of madness and blood. What's up with you?"
Just as I heard, her intuition is good. I open my mouth to answer, but she cuts me off. "Don't get lunatic here, I just swept."
"I..." I hesitate, mostly trying to interrupt her. "I got exiled. Got any ideas?"
She keeps staring for a moment, before speaking again. "Avoid any populated place, your lunacy will come back stronger and more people will get hurt."
"Wait, what lunacy?"
She glares for a moment, before her eyes relax, and she shrugs. "That rage you have. Sooner or later, I'll have to deal with you, but I'm too busy right now, so don't kill anyone important, okay?"
"Okay, see ya!"
She ignores me, and leaves. Not knowing what to do, I walk back to the torii, sit down, and wait.
Maybe, just maybe, I'm not thinking of it the right way. I should have faith. I should believe.

Everything's gonna be all right.
[] Go to the mountain.
[] Go to the lake.
[] Return to the village.
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[x] An unpopulated place cast aside by mankind? Makes me think of that one nameless hill.
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Well, this gives us some insight into how our hero's madness functions to some degree. However, I wonder what the shrine maiden is busy with at the moment; it probably has something to do with the muddy lake, which is notable, to put it lightly.

Anyways, let's consider the pros and cons of each choice:
[] Go to the mountain.
+Not many humans
+The source
-Youkai and beasts present
-Bad leg
[] Go to the lake.
+Name of the story
+Probable source of issues
-It grows stronger
[] Return to the village.
+Lots of humans
+Cat guy there
-Populace place
-Exiled. It hasn't even been a day

[X] Go to the lake.
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[X] Go to the lake.

I guess I delayed it long enough. I have no clue what I'll find there, but if it's a god waking up or something, maybe I can get her favor by being helpful when she'll wake up.
With a sigh (and despair), I slowly make my way to the lake. As I walk, I try to temper my hope, because I can only stomach so much disappointment in one day, and getting exiled is just another straw to a long list.
"And the worst part is that it's not even the worst thing that ever happened to me." I mumble to myself, unable to stand the silence.
Finally, I leave the dirt path that links the Hakurei Temple to the village, and I make my way to the lake through the woods. We used to come here often as kids, before the Boar got killed and eaten by a youkai. That wasn't his name, just how we called him after an outsider, frustrated by his lack of respect, called him a bore. I can't remember his name, but I can remember how his mother looked at us, when we were all alive and he wasn't. It was after that incident that we were taught sutras to chant in case we were attacked. They wouldn't make much of a difference, since we were kids with little spiritual powers, but together, they'd help.
I begin to chant, before coughing hard. I haven't reached the lake yet, but I can smell something horrible, like something rotting in the sun. The smell reminds me of more things I'd rather not remember.

Finally, I make my way to the lake, and it is a sight to behold. The lake used to be almost transparent, the water a light blue, but now, it's a horrible brown mess. Seriously, is it mud? The smell make me fear it's something else.
Looking around, I spot a few winged little girls shouting at each others, one of them poking in the mud with a stick. The way the wood can barely penetrate it, it really doesn't look like mud. I walk to them.
"Hey, girls?"
"Gah, a human!"
"What do you want?!"
"We're busy, we can't play a trick on you!"
"We're busy doing saw-hience!"
I smile, mentally counting to three. You need to keep a clear head when talking to fairies, getting mad will either scare them or get their interest. "What is going on?"
"The lake is smelly!"
"The lake smells like poop!"
"The lake is poop!"
"That dummy Cirno pooped all over the lake."
"She did not!"
"She did!"
I count to three one more time, and adopt my softest tone. "Do you know anything?"
"Okay, have a good day." I turn around and leave, ignoring them as they shout, and walk around the lake, toward a red mansion. I don't really want to go in, rumours in the village are that it's populated with vampires who will cocoon their victims and then suck their blood, but maybe I can ask them what's going on.
I mean, it's just a dumb hope, but if that lake of mud isn't someone waking up, then helping to clear it might help my case with the village. Only exceptional wizards can survive outside the village, after. I think Arakasa was doing fine, even after her husband died. I wonder how she's doing. Actually, maybe I should go see her instead of that mansion. I turn around, and begin to walk in the opposite way, before remembering that she lives on the other side of the village, and it'll take me several hours to walk there, and-
"Dammit, dammit, dammit!"
I raise my walking stick and throw it on the ground, sending sand flying. Even if I had a good leg, I wouldn't get to her before night came, and then what? No sane human, even someone living outside the village would open their door after night. What am I meant to do when night will come?
How will I live until tomorrow?!

I fall down on the beach, discouraged. I hoped that finding out something about that lake would help, but that was a stupid idea. Even if I somehow fixed the problem, I still murdered a human. An outsider, but a human no less.
I raise my hand, and refrain myself from punching the sand. I feel anger, and I clench my fist. I feel my nails, yet cut very short, dig into my palm. What was the village leader thinking? Exiling me is dooming me to a horrible death, and he knew that. Was he expecting me to go freeload at Tokiko's place? If so, he really didn't know me.
I try to breathe deeply, but my body feels hot, and I clench my teeth. How I wish I had my hands on the village's chief right now, I'd shove my thumbs in his eyes, and...
I look around. Something changed, something is wrong, but it takes me a few seconds to realize : the entire place is deadly silent. The fairies left, the birds aren't singing anymore.
Something wrong is going on.
There is a black cloud in the mud, like ink in water, and it seem to come toward me. As it comes closer, I can hear something, a single word, repeated over and over, like a whisper in the air, but so frail that I'm not even sure it's not a sigh.

[] What does it say? Listen to it.
[] Is it really following you? Circle around the lake.
[] Is it really worth risking it? Move away from the lake.
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[X] Is it really following you? Circle around the lake.

If that fart wants to whisper a dark secret into our hero's ear, I don't think much can be done to outrun it. Even more so if our hero just threw his cane aside. But let's see if we can drag another into hearing whatever this thing wants. If he's going to go crazy from eldritch revelations might as well have company.

>How I wish I had my hands on the village's chief right now, I'd shove my thumbs in his eyes, and...

He mad. I wonder if our hero will engage in metacognition at some point because getting that irate cannot be healthy.
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[X] What does it say? Listen to it.

̢̧̪̖̖̲͚̖̪̦̺̳͎̙͙̹̯͈͇͚̝̬̼̣̭̯͆̆͆̊̾̉̎̀͌̇̉̐́͂̄͗̃̑́͊͒̀͌̈́̍͌͌̊̇̾̉̚͝͝͝͠͝͠ ̸̨̢̡̧̧̨̧̛̥̺̣̯̥̝̪̼͎̘̱͍͇̰̯̻͍͈̜̙͉̝̘͙̬̜̞͚̗͍̲̱͉͔̲̬̜̫̭̪͖̜͎̻̲̪͈̳̦̹̠̝͉͙̼̦̽̓̈́͂́̔̅̐̆̎̐̓̔̎̍̾̄̋͆̅͋̋͒͆̔̈́̌͒̇̒̔̈̇̽̋̓̾͗́̊̄̀̌́̄̐̄̽̌̉͗̽̀̎̍̔͑̎̾̒̂̐̇̇̎̓̌̏̐̕̕̚͘̚̚̕̚͜͝͝͝͠͝͝ͅ
̡̧͇͓̳̝̫̥̹̩͍̺̹̬̯͍̹̫̥͈͇̩̖͇̺̰͎̫̬̪̣͕͇̣̺̗̣͔̹̤͚͕͔͖̦͖̳͖̯̬̗̯̭͔̜͇͙̭̜͉̯͖̫̱̬̠̖̭̬̮͈͍̮̺̃̽̇̾͗̿̀̉́̓̈͆̿̋̓̉͂̋͆̽̊̀͐́͆̄̋̈́͒̀̈́̒͆̆̀̕͘͜͜͜͠͝͝ͅ ̶̧̨̧̧̨̢̨̢̘̝͙̦̳̤̭̘͈̫͇̮̩̤̰͎̙̤̠̺̹̖̪̞͓̟̤͓̬̰͚̣̝̙̗͚̼̥̥͇̜̱͉̪͖͇̜̲̫̠̺̜͖͎͙̦̞̈́̐͆̿̒̔̽̌͌͆͑̋͒͒̋͒̌̇̋͋̕͜͜͜͝͝ͅͅw̸̛̾́̒͐͊̋́̏̀̽̏̉̈́̐̓̊͋̽̿̽̓̏̄͛̎̒̐̏͆͋̿̀̈́͐̅͛̍̏͛̇̍̀̓̋̎̎̇̇́̚͘̚͠
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